SWS calls for vigilance for election survey freedom

Constitutional protection

Two past attempts, one by means of a secret Comelec Resolution in 1998 and another by legislation (R.A. 9006 or the "Fair Election Act") in 2001, to ban the publication or broadcast of election surveys, were foiled by decisions of the Supreme Court declaring such surveys covered by the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. These decisions are: ABS-CBN v. Comelec, GR No. 133486, 28 January 2000, which approves of public exit polling; and SWS v. Comelec, GR No. 147571, 5 May 2001, which approves of publication of election surveys at any time before an election. In particular, the latter decision struck down, as unconstitutional, Sec. 5.4 of R.A. 9006 which had banned the publication of election surveys for a specific time before an election.

21 February 2007: As of this date:

1. The version of R.A. 9006 published in the Comelec's official website www.comelec.gov.ph continues to include the said unconstitutional Sec.5.4, thus misleading the Filipino people about their freedom to express themselves by means of election surveys.

2.The Comelec continues to ignore the demand of SWS for a formal apology for the error of including Sec. 54 of R.A. 9006 in Comelec Resolution 7767 of 30 November 2006.

3. The Comelec continues to ignore the demand of SWS for a transparent investigation of the cause of the error, for proper penalties to be meted to the persons responsible, and for measures to be taken to prevent repetition of the error in the future.

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